Digital technologies are helping improve the efficiency of municipal services and administration. Valencia is one of the first cities to use an open Cloud platform for the purpose.
Valencia claims to be the first fully integrated Smart City in Spain. It is certainly a ground-breaker, having consolidated all its services on a Cloud platform. The Cloud can be used to monitor everything that happens in the city: from traffic, street lighting and car parks, to the weather. “City managers will know what is happening in the city in real time and can cancel automatic irrigation on rainy days, open traffic lights to let an ambulance through, switch on street lights on a cloudy day to improve visibility and notify citizens where there are free parking spaces, along with many other possibilities,” says Javier Castro, General Manager with Telefónica, citing just some of the possibilities. The company’s cloud-based IoT platform forms the basis of the Smart City solution. The system conforms to Fiware, a European open-source standard on which various Internet applications can be based.
All services in view
Valencia has consolidated a total of 45 different municipal services on the open platform. It has enabled the city to administer and run its telecommunications, energy, transport, emergency response and safety and security infrastructures more efficiently. The city has installed 350 new sensors for the purpose, as well as utilising mobility data from some 3,900 pre-installed sensors and 1,000 smart traffic light units, for example, in order to measure traffic density. All these municipal services are continuously monitored and networked via the platform, resulting in greater efficiency and a new quality of services. The ultimate aims are to cut public expenditure, make the administration more efficient and improve the services the city provides. The platform additionally provides the public with a centralised, permanently accessible resource to obtain information on municipal services. Data relating to noise pollution, waste disposal, water management, air quality, and many other indicators that a big city needs to have under control, are now recorded centrally. Some 90 per cent of the city’s official forms can be completed online and residents can also handle all formalities by paperless means through the online platform. A city app named App Valencia enables any resident to interact with the municipal services.
Knowing what the public think
“Digital technology is making the ‘Smart City’ more inclusive, improving its citizens’ comfort, solving problems more efficiently and making the most of the economic development opportunities it brings,” explains Laurent Auguste, Veolia Senior Executive Vice President Innovation and Markets. The French company offers cities special software tools: Urban Board provides decision-making aids for administrators by consolidating technical and social indicators. It links municipal services in the fields of mobility, safety and security, cleanliness and the environment with the expectations of the public. The tool analyses posts and comments in social media in order to survey public opinion. Based on the results, the administration can fine-tune the technical infrastructure of the city to better meet citizens’ expectations.
Interacting with the city administration
The Urban Pulse app provides residents with smartphone access to freely available information about their city in real time. It also enables them to use services such as car-sharing, or to travel more efficiently around the city by calculating the optimum connection between two points – incorporating all potential means of transport and always based on timetables updated in real time. They can get information on air pollution, enabling them to choose the cleanest means of transport. They can also use the app’s GPS functionality to meet up with friends more easily. And residents can use the app to report defective municipal facilities, bad smells, fly-tipping and other issues on the relevant website. The public thus has a means of communicating directly with the administration, and thus helping to improve the quality of life in their city.